Above: Moonrise over the Tatoosh. Not too far up, winter camping offers rewarding views.
Getting Away From It All: Winter Camping on Mount RainierBy Janine Unsoeld
The gate between Longmire and Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park is now open 24 hours, but always check for park alerts, news and weather before you leave home.
No doubt, the National Park Inn at Longmire is an enticing and very romantic possibility for spending a night or two, and the historic Paradise Inn is scheduled to open for the 2014 season on Wednesday, May 21.
Winter camping this past weekend on the mountain, however, was spectacularly beautiful, and offered its own rewards to practice physical and mental endurance, and gear management.
I learned a lot: Hand warmers in my gloves were life-savers, as were the stash of nuts in my pocket when my go-to calorie supply of Snickers bars were frozen so bad I couldn't get a bite off, ever, and, for someone my size, carrying a 46 pound pack was a ridiculous load.
Despite the grueling lessons learned, it was great to escape from the routine, and remind oneself that there’s more to life than work, meetings and day-to-day minutia.
Above: The weather at Mt. Rainier was clear and beautiful this past weekend. At 2:00 a.m., and throughout the night, the moon was bright orange, with stars and shooting stars on display.
Above: Coming back from Panorama Point at sunrise.
Above: Janine learns the hard way, and carries a ridiculously heavy, but seemingly necessary load.